Ted Leonsis Rumors

Leonsis sees the NBA as a platform, like Facebook — “the good Facebook,” he said Monday morning. And he expects 2K teams will become part of that platform, both as a revenue-generator and a content-provider, along with an owners’ NBA, WNBA and G League teams. “In the short term, it will help us in marketing and help us be more relevant to a younger audience,” Leonsis said. “It will also help us globally. The Twitches and YouTubes are unwired, and available to people around the world.”
Storyline: eSports
“eSports will be a boon for traditional media,” Leonsis said. “The two drivers of revenue and fan affinity will be digital sports and digital gaming and gambling. Outside of the U.S., digital gambling is accepted. You go do digital gambling like you would go to a Starbucks … if you look at things like Draft Kings, if you put a virtual team together, you watch all of the games. You’re really interested. When casual fans bet on games, like the NCAA Tournament or the Super Bowl, the viewership stays really high.”
Leonsis has in recent years emerged as a vocal proponent of legalized sports gambling, and not just to save football. He said in the interview that he foresees in-arena betting in American sports venues, that he even imagines in-arena WNBA betting, which could help drive attendance and interest in women’s basketball. He said that betting on games inside American venues “will not be an oddity; that will be standing operating procedure.” And he said he could imagine ESPN2 essentially morphing into a gambling trading network, the CNBC of sports gambling. “It’s not like people aren’t gambling,” he said. “It’s kind of like when prohibition of liquor was happening, and people were drinking in speakeasies and the like. And so it’s estimated that there’s hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars that are being spent with bookies. . . . And so states need revenues, we need tax revenues, we need to be able to have a system that is very transparent with the amount of data. I joked the other day with someone from ESPN, I said look, if you’re a day trader or you’re in the financial community, you have CNBC on 24/7. And there are buy-side analysts and there are sell-side analysts and there’s a ticker. You could see one day ESPN2 being like CNBC.
“Gambling is no different than betting on stocks on Wall Street, right? The people who do best are the most informed. They’re following the companies, they’re looking at the balance sheets, they’re looking at the analysts reports. That’s what I envision 10 years from now: that gaming and gambling will be very data driven, all powered through the digital networks; that the amount of data that teams and leagues and players generate will make for very educated, smart people; and there’ll be casual gamblers and there’ll be serious professional ones, and there won’t be a stigma attached to it, just like there’s no stigma on Wall Street.”